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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  December 31, 2013 2:00pm-3:31pm PST

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♪ >> of course, we should never forget the american forces we lost over the past year. we can only hope they know and knew the depths of our gratitude for their service and sacrifice. that's it for "the lead." happy new year to you. thanks for watching. i now turn you over to dana bash, who is filling in for wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, red-hot danger. new information about a fiery train crash that's driving home growing fears about railroad safety. plus, ready for rescue. will dozens of researchers trapped in the antarctic be airlifted soon? and new year's fireworks. we'll show you a celebration of 2014 unlike any other. wolf blitzer is off. i'm dana bash. you're in "the situation room."
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right now, residents are being allowed to return to a small north dakota town where an oil train crash triggered explosions and a huge fireball. hundreds of people were evacuated after warnings that the fumes might be dangerous. chris lawrence is here with an update on that and growing concerns about railroad accidents across the country. >> yeah, we just confirmed that the evacuation order has been lifted so that's a good thing. people are allowed now to go back into their homes and the fact that no one was hurt or killed in this crash is a terrific thing. but that alone is not going to make some people rest easy and they are wondering just how safe are america's rails. this oil train derailment near fargo, north dakota triggered a massive fireball that spewed thick black smoke over families' homes. >> scary. got two kids. you don't know if it will affect them and make them sick. >> reporter: officials evacuated nearly the entire town of castleton as they tested the air.
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ntsb investigators have now arrived on the ground. >> i think our biggest challenge right now is that the fire is still burning, and we're not able to get up close and personal to the wreckage. >> reporter: crashes like this are calling attention to overall rail safety. 79 people died this summer when a passenger train slammed into a concrete wall in spain. in early december, new york's metro north train derailed, killing four. in north dakota, some of the rail cars may be the type the ntsb has sounded the alarm over, saying they are more vulnerable to being breached in a crash. >> but there are different types of d.o.t. 111 cars so we will want to be confirming that. >> reporter: critics say oil companies have been slow to upgrade the cars. the kind that derailed in quebec this summer, killing 47 people. tank cars can withstand impacts at 18 miles an hour but some say
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even improvements wouldn't protect them going 60, 70, 80. >> you just can't physically build a tank that can withstand that kind of impact speed. >> reporter: gary wolfe says trains are far safer than trucks. right now, the only alternative to shipping crude oil across the country. >> i don't think the average person wants to be driving next to a 75 mile an hour rig carrying crude oil down the highway 12 feet away from your automobile. >> reporter: some oil companies are using new technology like taking a laser snapshot of each wheel as it goes over each section of the track. they then compare that shape to federal standards to make sure it doesn't have too much wear and tear. that has contributed to about a 50% drop in accidents since say 2005-2006, and the interesting thing is, six, seven years ago, there were about 50,000 oil shipments a year. that number is now up to over 400,000 so the number of shipments going up, accidents actually going down. >> very interesting.
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chris lawrence, thank you very much for that report. a massive anti-terrorism operation is going on in russia right now after a pair of deadly bomb attacks. dozens of people have been detained but that's doing little to ease fears that terrorists may strike the winter olympics in russia in just a matter of weeks. our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty is here. jill, russia is promising a pretty tough response here. >> oh, they definitely are. in fact, the russian police are carrying out a massive anti-terror operation in volgograd with 5,000 officers. they have already questioned 1,000 people. but will that prevent future possible attacks in other locations? a suicide bomber detonates himself at a russian train station. a security camera capturing the seconds before the explosion. russia is reeling after two terrorist attacks in volgograd killed 32 people and injured 72.
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president vladimir putin in his new year's address rallying his fellow russians. >> translator: we will fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation. >> reporter: with his $50 billion olympics in sochi, southern russia a little over a month away, he pledged to hold the games at a very high level. but this man, doku umarov, who some called russia's osama bin laden, plans to destroy those olympics, calling them satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors. some athletes like american speed skater julie ann rocard are worried. she told the associated press i don't know if i necessarily trust their, the russians', security forces but they don't want a national embarrassment, either. the terrorist leader umarov is based in dagestan, now the epicenter of terrorism in
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russia, just 300 miles east of the site of the games in sochi. the same region where the men implicated in the boston marathon bombing lived before moving to the united states. the russian government is responsible for overall security at the games. the state department, as it does with all large events, will send diplomatic security agents to join with russian security and foreign officials. >> our diplomatic security personnel have been working with the russians for many months on security. they obviously work with our team, with high level officials, also we provide u.s. citizen services to folks that will be traveling there so we're ready to support any way we can to help with the security situation. >> reporter: the sochi olympics are one of vladimir putin's highest priorities right now. russia's chance to shine on the international stage. but a high stakes gamble if he can't keep the games and russia secure.
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and protecting russia may be the more difficult challenge. mr. putin is promising the sochi olympics will be safe and security forces have moved to basically lock down the site, but protecting the rest of russia, all of its nine time zones, is an overwhelming job. >> absolutely. and certainly vladimir putin has staked so much on this, not only security but, you know, russia's legendary idea on what he wants russia to be. you know this more than anybody. >> it's image, it's the most important thing right now. >> thank you so much. appreciate it. a dramatic air rescue operation could begin at any time in the frigid waters off antarctica. dozens of people are trapped on board a research ship that's been stuck in the ice for more than a week. the timing of the airlift depends on the weather. our senior international correspondent matthew chance is following the story for us. what's the latest? >> reporter: well, the latest is that this is a new plan that has been developed because the old
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plan, trying to get to that research vessel, the "akademik shokalskiy" which is marooned in a remote part of antarctica by sea using ice breakers has failed. there has been three attempts to do it, three different ice breakers. they all can't manage to cut through the thick ice there. the only way now they say is to airlift the majority of the 74 passengers and crew off that ship with a helicopter but they can't do that unless the weather gets better. this morning, new video. dozens of passengers walking arm in arm, doing what they can to speed their rescue. >> we've just learned the aurora can't reach us. we are preparing the helipad by getting the team to stomp down on snow and ice so the chinese helicopter from snow dragon can reach us when the weather improves. >> reporter: the weather conditions are not expected to get better until at least one more day. in the meantime, the crew has marked the spot in the ice where the chopper can land.
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once it does, it will transport 12 people at a time to a chinese ice breaker. then a barge will ferry them from the ice breaker to another ship from australia. the stranded research ship, the "akademik shokalskiy" had set out to study climate change in antarctica and retrace the steps of explorer douglas moulson who studied life on the frozen continent a century ago, but they got stuck in thick ice. >> these are big chunks of ice, really thick, lots of years' worth of growth. this is not going to be easy to get through. >> reporter: since christmas, three separate ice breaker ships have tried and failed to cut a path to the research vessel. once the rescue does happen, a skeleton crew will be left behind but for most of the 74 people marooned, this antarctic ordeal may soon be coming to an end. we're watching this situation very closely at the moment.
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the weather conditions are still too poor for the helicopters to operate safely, so those 74 people on board are going to stay marooned for some time to come. dana? >> certainly not a way to ring in the new year. thank you. i know you will keep us updated on what's going on there. up next, while the president is on vacation, the administration makes a big announcement about obamacare. i will ask a senior white house official if there could be a catch. plus an eye-popping new year's light show in a city that likes to do things big. welcome back. how is everything?
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just in to cnn, a new record for a new year.
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♪ we just learned that this amazing fireworks display made it into the guinness book of world records. the city of dubai, that was their goal, in the united arab emirates to set off 400,000 fireworks over a six-minute period. that beat the old record for the largest fireworks display by quite a lot. it was set last year when kuwait exploded 77,000 fireworks over an hour. in these final hours of 2013, we have updated numbers on obamacare enrollment. the administration says more than two million people will have insurance -- excuse me, health insurance under the program at the start of the new year through federal and through state exchanges, but we don't know yet how many of those actually have paid for their premiums. the president and his signature health care law both face many, many challenges in 2014. cnn's athena jones is with the president in the enviable assignment of hawaii. looking beautiful out there. let us know what the latest is,
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particularly with the president's legacy obamacare. >> reporter: good afternoon. well, the president and his family are spending today snorkeling, ending the year on a fun note. but almost everyone agrees that 2013 was not a good year for president obama and with 2014 right around the corner, the question is whether it will be any better. golf, basketball, trips to the beach and crowd-pleasing dinners out. a christmas vacation spent winding down after a government shutdown, surveillance scandals and a rocky healthcare.gov rollout made 2013 a year the president might like to forget. there is some good news on the health care front to end the year. more than two million people have enrolled in the federal and state-run insurance exchanges. this as obama rings in a new year with high hopes of tackling a string of other important issues on his agenda. >> i firmly believe that 2014
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can be a breakthrough year for america. >> reporter: from growing the economy and creating jobs to raising the minimum wage. >> we've got work to do to create more good jobs, to help more americans earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs and to make sure that those jobs offer the wages and benefits that let families build a little bit of financial security. >> reporter: and pushing an immigration overhaul through a divided congress. >> we still have the task of finishing the fix on our broken immigration system. >> reporter: at home, a raging debate about privacy and a stalled effort on gun control. on the international front, issues like the war in syria and negotiations over iran's nuclear program will continue to consume the president's time. but just how much can get done in 2014 will depend a great deal on congress. >> it's probably too early to declare an outbreak of bipartisanship, but it's also fair to say that we're not
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condemned to endless gridlock. there are areas where we can work together. >> reporter: the first item the president wants congress to tackle in the new year, extending unemployment benefits to the more than one million people who have lost them. he will lay out the rest of his 2014 agenda on january 28th in the state of the union address. dana? >> athena jones, thank you very much. joining me now from the white house is white house senior advisor, phil shalero. the big news today is the two million number, signed up. but i want to talk about the more immediate deadline. that is tomorrow. on january 1st, that is the day that those who signed up and enrolled by christmas eve are expecting to have actual insurance coverage. can you guarantee that the people who think that they are going to have coverage will actually have it? >> i'm going to answer that question but we can't gloss over today's number. today is just such an
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unqualified good day, that 2.1 million americans have signed on to the exchange. not because they had to. penalties don't kick in until next year. they signed on because they wanted insurance. >> so just to put a button on this, i will get to the two million number, i know there are no guarantees in life, but given the way that this has gone so far, the rollout, if suddenly tomorrow people wake up and think they have health insurance and they don't, that's going to be a big nightmare scenario for you. >> sure it would. i don't think that's going to happen. let's take a step back. we have experience with the insurors, with pharmacies, with hospitals, dealing with these problems in the past. over the last few weeks, we have worked intensively with them to be ready for tomorrow. all the people who think they have insurance and are worried about problems on the back end, we've reached out to at least twice. the insurors have reached out to at least twice. could there be some confusion tomorrow? possibly. if there is, people should do two things. first, call their insuror.
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see if the insuror can clarify whether they have coverage or not, especially if they don't have a card. if that doesn't work, we've set up an 800 number. it's 1-800-318-2596. if you don't mind, i'm going to repeat it one more time because it's important. 1-800-318-2596. we will have operators there 24 hours a day. if you think you have coverage and are at a physician's office and they say you don't, if you call that number, we will be able to clarify promptly. if there's a complicated problem, we have case workers who can work with you to resolve those issues. >> let me get back to the two million number. >> i like that number. >> i'm sure you do. never mind the fact that it is lower than what was anticipated which was about three million at this point. but putting the big number aside, what really matters is who are these people. can you answer that question, and when i say who, as you well know, what is needed to make this whole paradigm work is for
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young healthy people to sign up. are those a big part of the two million or is it more older people and sicker people who need the insurance? >> so i have been away from washington for a little bit, and i have forgotten that every piece of good news, people look for a dark cloud. >> just a reality check. not a dark cloud. a reality check. >> but a reality check is 2.1 million people have signed up voluntarily in the exchange because they want insurance. another 3.9 have signed up because they want medicaid and there are another three million on their parents' plan that we don't even count. >> can you answer the question? >> i'm going to get to that. >> okay. >> you're absolutely right. long term, there's a question of what the demographics are, right? we're not going to have a full answer to that until we're through with this enrollment period which will be late march. at this point, we don't have a breakdown on if it's older or younger people, if it's 20% or 80%. as soon as we have that, we will share it with you. we just don't know it yet.
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but the thing that's encouraging to me, we had a very slow start and that's an understatement, in october and november. the more people see that this is a credible product and this is a place where they can get insurance, more people want to sign up and at some point, you hit critical mass. that will answer the demographic problem. >> thank you very much. i want to say that you did come back after two years in new mexico, your family is still there. i bet you didn't think you would be sitting in the white house briefing room. >> i did it but it's a pleasure talking with you. happy new year. >> thank you. you, too. coming up, 2013 was one of the worst years for congress in the history of our country. so why are some senators telling me next year will be a whole different story? and right now, pot sellers in colorado are prepping their stores for what they hope will be a huge rush tomorrow. the pot demand appears to be there but will the sellers be ready? c explore what's new.
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for congress, 2013 is a forgettable year. fewer bills signed into law than any other congress in modern history. important must-pass items that are usually no-brainers to pass, like the farm bill, are stuck in legislative limbo. it's no wonder americans' opinions of congress is lower than car salesman and cockroaches. i'm here to give you a little hope for 2014. i talked to some senators on their way out of town who actually speak to each other across party lines, and they are optimistic about what the new year will bring. even republican susan collins, one of the few remaining gop moderates. is it better overall than you've
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seen it in a long time? >> first of all, compromise is not a dirty word. it doesn't mean giving up your principles. it means respecting the views of those on the other side of an issue and trying to work together to find common ground. i'm convinced that's what the american people want out of washington, and it would be helpful if we had more people in the center to bring that about. >> i've seen you pretty frustrated in years past. you seem less frustrated now with regard to the concept of compromise. >> i think the pendulum is starting to swing back toward the center. >> susan collins worked with 14 senators as the year came to a close, including these two freshmen, angus king and joe donnelly. the public approval of congress is still pretty low. does that surprise you? >> no, because what they see every day on television is
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deadlock, in-fights and screaming. what you don't see every day is large groups of both democrats and republicans coming together saying how can we work through this process. i always say when folks back home talk about all they see is the screaming, i say well, on a lot of these shows, the screamers get all the attention. the people who are doing the work are back in the rooms doing the work. >> i've had people in the last few weeks come up to me and say thank you for being reasonable and i thought -- first i thought that's a nice compliment. then i thought man, that's a pretty low bar. >> senator ron johnson came in on the 2010 tea party wave but bucked conservatives by voting for budget compromise. >> my standpoint, i'm willing to work with anybody that's willing to acknowledge a problem and work with me in good faith to solve it. that's my resolution. that's been my resolution since i came here. >> agriculture chairman debbie stabenow tried and failed to pass a farm bill, but sounds hopeful for 2014. >> i think people understand
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that the public expects us to work together and get things done. >> it's these two freshmen who sound most optimistic. >> because you know what, i'm the hired help. i work for everybody back home. that's how everybody here should be. >> we got to get together in january and talk about how to deal with some of these issues that are dividing us. i'm hopeful. >> joining me now are three reporters who know well the gridlock in congress. cnn political commentator and washington correspondent for the new yorker, ryan lizza. jennifer steinour of the "new york times" and buzzfeed's washington bureau chief, john stanton. easy for me to say. all right. maybe i'm a sucker but i actually want to believe what those senators said, that things are going to get better in 2014. you guys are hill rats. you cover congress, you walk around the halls like i do. what do you think? are you going to poke a hole in the bubble? >> well, i thought one of the most interesting things that happened at the end of the year, really one of the most
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interesting things that's happened since republicans took the house in 2010, was john boehner standing up as you remember, you were there, and denouncing some of the right-leaning outside groups that have been pressuring members to vote certain ways to bring down bills, to bring down compromise bills that a lot of people even in the party had been supporting. i think that could presage a different era. at the same time, we saw over at the senate, the right-leaning senators, particularly those up for re-election, really pushing back against for example, the budget deal. i think that will be the interesting dynamic to watch. >> i think the budget deal allows them a little bit of space to do some things that there is bipartisan agreement. if you look at sexual assault in the military, gillibrand was able to put together a very bipartisan group. claire mccaskill was able to put together her own on immigration, there's a potential for that. there are a number of issues, drones, things like that, where there are possibilities for this. getting these big budget issues out of the way i think does -- >> this is such an optimistic group.
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ryan? debbie downer. here he is. >> the senate, it started on a pretty good note. the lame duck in 2012, biden and mcconnell came to an agreement, they passed bipartisan immigration reform by a huge majority. but as the year wore on and as a lot of the republican senators started to draw primary opponents and really started to worry about their 2014 races, the senate descended into a lot more -- to look a lot more like the house and ended with this big sort of ugly fight over the so-called nuclear option. so i think it's very tough to see what's going to come out of the senate on a bipartisan basis next year, given all the primary challenges. on the house, the house side it looks like boehner sort of broke the back of that opposition in his own party by the end of the year and maybe there's a chance for some stuff to come out of the house. >> let's drill down on some of the big things we will be covering in the week i guess when congress comes back. first of all, a minimum wage increase. that's the number one agenda item in the senate. then longer term february, a debt ceiling increase.
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then you mentioned immigration reform, passed the senate but the house, if you believe john boehner, is going to take up this in some way, shape or form probably in small or bite-sized chunks. you mentioned john boehner. do you think that the fact that he pushed back against these conservative groups is going to make it easier for him to get immigration passed which is something that republicans and the quote unquote establishment think they need to do to pull back latinos into the fold? >> it is possible but i don't think that translates into an aggressive legislative agenda. i do think they continue to fight over obamacare, it continues to be a wild card in this dynamic. now that we have two million people registered, do republicans continue to push for repeal or do they continue to push this agenda of oversight, does that agenda sort of put in the shadows any other legislative agenda, particularly at a time when people are trying to get re-elected. i don't know that that's necessarily the case. >> ryan, that is a wild card.
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obamacare, that is basically the entire republican playbook. >> that's not going to go away. the republicans have to make a decision about that. if the technical issues on the website get better, they have to decide are they still the party of repeal or are they just the party of trying to tweak it and fix the law. fix it or repeal it. on immigration reform, the one republican in the house that proved to have credibility with the right and the ability to sort of unlock a bipartisan deal was paul ryan. he seems to be the one guy on the house side and republican side that could perhaps put together a bipartisan deal on immigration reform in the house. >> i think he's the guy that you have to watch on that issue. minimum wage is going to be for democrats what obamacare is for republicans. there's no chance the house will do anything on that issue. but democrats are going to use this to sort of demagogue and just as republicans use obamacare as a rallying cry. immigration is that one spot, if paul ryan is able to duplicate what he did with the budget deal, you could actually see a substantial change to immigration laws in this country.
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i think that boehner is trying to find a way to give them space to do that. >> he has to be willing to lose quite a few republican votes and bring in democrats. that's the difficulty. >> which he wasn't before but now looks like he is. real quick, obviously 2014 is an election year. you mentioned the senate. that's where all of our eyes are going to be, because republicans need six seats. they need to bring back six seats in order to take control of the senate. such a fascinating story, because the dynamic just like it was the past two years, first and foremost, will some of these republicans get beat from within their own party and will they hold on to their seats. what are the races you will be watching? >> it's so interesting because when i start to do the math, you get one, two, three, four seats. you can come up with those off the bat where republicans look to have a place to move. but it's always the fifth and sixth seat, right, that is in question. you look at -- it's very hard for me to understand sitting here with you today on new year's eve how democrats, for
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example, succeed in georgia. but then you start to look back on the mccaskill race and you wonder if that's a possibility. there are strange races that you are loathe to predict right now. >> in the past two election cycles, republicans felt really confident and democrats were really worried, and it turned out republicans couldn't seal the deal. >> they have a couple problems right now on the primary side, kansas, mississippi, a couple places where they have members who are being primaried and they have very serious challenges. these are older members, they have not had to run a real race in some cases decades and they are looking at somebody who is really coming at them. that will be a fascinating thing. >> the thing i will look for is the obama years have been basically a tale of two electorates. in the presidential years, '08 and '12, big outpouring of new voters, nonwhite voters that he brought into the system. those voters did not show up in 2010. can the obama machine that helped him win re-election, can he overcome the normal advantage
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that republicans will have in a midterm and get some of the new voters out and help the democrats keep the senate. >> i just want to say for the record i'm glad to see you all on new year's eve but also glad we are not in congress as we were last year and the year before and the year before that. there are no cliffs, no deadlines, nothing. thank you all. enjoy your new year's eve like real human beings. appreciate it. thank you, guys. up next, anticipation grows for recreational pot to hit the shelves in colorado tomorrow. but will retailers have enough pot to go around? and they are a popular tourist attraction but will horse-drawn carriages go the way of large sodas and get banned in new york city?
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with the new year comes an historic new law. recreational pot is going on sale in colorado stores but the demand could be so high that pot sellers worry they might run out after the first day. cnn's casey wian is in colorado with the latest. casey? >> reporter: dana, i'm at the 3-d cannabis center in denver, where in less than 18 hours, retail sales of recreational marijuana will begin. even though it's just a few hours away from now, there's still a lot of work to do. you can see what's happening here. these employees are actually putting what are known as rfid tags on each of these plants. they've got 1200 of these plants to tag overnight. it's a state requirement where all of these retail marijuana sellers are going to have to keep very, very close control over their inventory.
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the tags were supposed to get here yesterday. the ups situation that delayed so many people's christmas presents and also delayed some of the tags arriving at marijuana retailers, so the state has given sort of a grace period to some of these retailers to allow them to open tomorrow morning. we can see if lu at our other camera shot that there are shelves here where the marijuana will be stocked. marijuana is actually still in a safe, it is not out on the shelves yet. they're waiting until late tonight to do it. there is obviously a lot of work that remains to be done overnight. retailers say that they are expecting a long line beginning at 8:00 tomorrow morning and they expect that in the not too distant future because of the demand and the limited supply for this recreational marijuana, which is a whole different inventory stream than the medical marijuana, they are expecting shortages and higher prices to emerge so they're expecting lines outside the door on new year's day. dana? >> casey, thanks.
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though recreational marijuana may be illegal for anyone under 21, there are fears it will be much easier for teens to get their hands on it. as cnn's anna cabrera reports, colorado already has a teen age pot problem. >> reporter: how many people around your age do you know who have smoked marijuana? >> i want to say nine out of ten students. >> reporter: it's that prevalent? >> yeah, definitely. >> reporter: colorado schools have a pot problem. where do people get it? >> i don't know exactly, but just like i know that kids smoke it a lot. >> now that it's legal, everybody's just getting it. >> reporter: while still illegal for anyone under the age of 21, younger people are finding ways to get their hands on marijuana, and we found they don't shy away from talking about it. >> i see people selling it and i think it's easy for people to get now. >> reporter: even for somebody who is underaged? >> yeah. >> i know lots of people, most of my friends use it.
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>> reporter: why do they want to use it? >> i feel like that it's not typically classified as like a harmful drug, like as meth or whatever. >> reporter: do you know of anybody who comes to school high or gets high during lunch break, for example? >> oh, yeah. this is -- yeah, definitely. >> reporter: not that uncommon? >> yeah, it's not uncommon at all. there's a bunch of people that come to school high. >> reporter: while some teens seem to think using marijuana is okay, schools are trying to send a message that it's not. pot is now the number one reason students are kicked out of colorado public schools. 230 expelled last year because of marijuana, according to the colorado department of education. pot proving to be a bigger problem than alcohol, disobedience or weapons violations. >> the message we would like to get out from the school safety resource center is we really need parents to be talking to their children about the risks. >> that's where all my problems started was weed, i guess. >> reporter: 18-year-old chris collins knows about the risks all too well. he says he began experimenting
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with marijuana when he was just 10 years old. by age 14, he was hooked. what did you get out of it? >> bad grades and trouble, pretty much. >> reporter: kicked out of school, he's been in and out of jail ten times in the past four years. >> when i was 14, that was the first time i got my first drug paraphernalia ticket. i had five possessions and it slowly got worse. >> reporter: collins warns marijuana isn't as harmless as some may think. did you ever think you were going to become addicted to it? did you really realize even what was happening? >> like i didn't think it was possible to like become addicted to marijuana, i guess. >> the evidence is very clear that it's addictive. >> reporter: adolescent addictive specialist dr. paula riggs says one out of six kids who tries marijuana as a teenager will become addicted. she says compared to the 1960s, the marijuana sold today has a higher concentration of thc, a
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chemical that impacts memory and learning, reaction time and motor skills. she says a developing brain is most vulnerable. >> daily or near daily use can be associated with six to eight point reduction in their adult iq. you don't get that back. >> reporter: collins has a lot in life he wants to get back. now drug-free for eight months, he's focusing on small goals. >> to graduate. >> reporter: he hopes sharing his story will help prevent others from going down the wrong path by using pot. anna cabrera, cnn, denver. just ahead, a controversial move by new york city's mayor-elect. why he wants to ban one of central park's most popular and iconic attractions. and kim jong-un goes skiing. the latest and some of the strangest images coming out of north korea.
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it's an image you've probably seen before, even if you've never been to the big apple. wide-eyed tourists riding through new york's central park on horse drawn carriages, but that soon could be a thing of the past. margaret, say it ain't so. my two year old wants to go see the horsies the minute we get to new york city. is it possible he won't see them anymore? >> reporter: it's possible. it's a horse and buggy battle. a lot of tourists are heading to new york's other iconic location. they're heading to new york's central park to go for one last carriage ride.
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this is as new york mayor elect bill de blasio say it's over. soon they may be a thing of the past. tomorrow new york mayor elect bill de blasio takes the reins from current mayor mike bloomberg. >> we are going to get rid of the horse carriages, period. >> reporter: they have been offered in central park for more than a hundred years. they've been celebrated on film here in barefoot in the park and on tv, including sex in the city. >> and i wasn't going to question any of it. not even how he found a horse-drawn sleigh in the middle of manhattan. >> reporter: and they've been on the top of so many tourists must-do list. >> don't get rid of the horses or we won't come back.
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>> reporter: but animal rights groups have long been calling for a ban on the rides, citing accidents like these. and they say the animals are forced to live in conditions they say is inhumane. >> no matter what they say, the horses are really not kept in a good condition. >> reporter: the mare -- mayor says he is open to suggestions. >> the horses are the star. it's not the car. it's not the carriage. it's not me. that's what people come for. you can't create that with an electric car. you'll never create it. kids can't pet fenders. they pet horses. >> reporter: the two sides are going back and forth. the animal rights activists say it's not right for the animals to be in an urban setting. meanwhile, the carriage drivers are fighting for their jobs. they say that the horses are actually being treated well.
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some of them get five weeks of vacation asix months off. now let's take a look at some of the other stories coming into the situation room. more trouble for target this holiday season. some customers are having trouble using their target gift cards in stores. target says the cards will be honored. this comes avatar get revealed its what the victim of a massive credit card hack affecting 40 million customers and their pin numbers. warring sides in south sudan say they've agreed to peace talks. the south sudanese government has been fighting with rebels loyal to the former vice president who the president has accused of trying to launch a coup. north korean leader kim jong
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un is known to enjoy luxury. they have released pictures of their leader taking a ride on a ski lift at a ski resort. he apparently grew to love skiing as he was in switzerland as a young man under an assumed name. the s&p closed at an all time high. it's been a beg year for the dow and the s&p. both recorded their biggest annual gains since the late 1990s. and coming up. they've created some of the most hilarious moments on new year's eve tv. anderson cooper and cathy griffin are back at it tonight. and we'll look at some of their funniest moments together.
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if yand you're talking toevere rheuyour rheumatologistike me, about trying or adding a biologic. this is humira, adalimumab. this is humira working to help relieve my pain. this is humira helping me through the twists and turns. this is humira helping to protect my joints from further damage. doctors have been prescribing humira for over ten years. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to ra symptoms. for many adults, humira is proven to help relieve pain and stop further joint damage. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer, have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira , your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have symptoms such as fever,
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fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. ask your doctor if humira can work for you. this is humira at work. side by side, so you get the same coverage, often for less. [ rattling ] that's one smart board. what else does it do -- reverse gravity? [ chuckles ] split atoms? [ whoooosh! ] hey, how is that atom-splitting thing going? [ rattling ] [ electronic whistling ] oh! [ zap! ] a smarter way to shop around. now, that's progressive. call or click today.
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anderson cooper and cathy griffin are back ringing in the new year tonight. here's a preview. >> what are we going to do on new year's eve? >> i'm going to give you a pot brownie. >> that's not going to happen. >> i also have a written statement from my mother because every year she is embarrassed by my actions. i am quite thrilled that my daughter was asked to join mr. anderson cooper, taylor swift and miley cyrus for the celebration. >> they're not going to be on. >> i am also happy that santa
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claus remains now and forever white. oh, god. she watches fox a lot. i've already begun toasting to your success by enjoying the finist of boxed wines. that's true. please know that i will never forgive myself if my daughter shames the griffin name again. the only promise i can make is that i will not be sober during your broadcast, love maggie. there's your beloved maggie that you think is so charming >> i do think she is charming. i think she is lovely, and i find it hard to believe that you come from her. >> well, guess what? >> what. >> she's here right now. >> really? are you serious? >> mom, mom. >> look over there. >> hey, maggie, how's it going? >> hi, anderson, how are you doing? >> i'm doing all right. are you going to watch us on new year's eve? >> oh, definitely. >> what are you looking forward to with anderson on new year's
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eve? >> there are some things that kathleen mary is not going to do. >> what's she not going to do? >> well, she's going to be a pillar of elegance. that's for sure. and there will be no transactions. >> transactions. >> shenanigans. no shenanigans. yeah. >> but i'm curious about the transactions. what transaction? >> as a mother, i can promise you, that she'll be fully dressed at all times, thank god. and she will also not take the lord's name in vain. >> good. >> or attempt to disrobe mr. anderson, mr. cooper. sgru don't have to call him mr. anderson, okay? >> is she reading from the cnn contract that you why forced to sign? i hope so. >> yes, he is. and we had to put it in really
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big font. and she doesn't normally read contracts. >> let me just show cathy a little bit of what i'm worried about. >> i'm here with kathy griffin. >> i'm here with not ryan seacrest. sgru can't do that. >> yeah, i did. >> i almost wore this. i was this close to wearing this. >> isn't that awkward? sorry. hi, everybody. take your hands off me. honestly. >> kathy was saying it was like the prom she never had. >> that's right. >> i texted her to say happy thanksgiving. and you know what she texted back? are you drunk? >> i know that's your sh particul
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and that's what you do. keep it clean. don't be tawdry, you know? >> i didn't know it was the roaring '20s. i'll try not to be tawdry at the speak easy with prohibition and all. first of all, we're on from 9:00 to 12:30. >> that's what concerns me. >> we should pick like a clean blochblgt so maybe it's 9:15 until 9:30 i'm dressed and then the rest i'm just go time. >> go time. >> 9:00 eastern, anderson cooper and kathy griffin, they will be ringing in the new year like only they can. happening now, new year's eve security, we are tracking that along with the police who are tracking any threats. robot screeners.
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they're testing high-tech security systems. and photo bombshell, on-air chatter about mitt romney's christmas card ignites chatter. and you are looking at live pictures of fireworks in berlin, germany as the new year, 2014, is ringing in there with absolutely beautiful fireworks. and just six hours to go before huge crowds ring in the new year here on the east coast. cnn is covering all of it. celebrations across america. the tight security that is always required for a massive outdoor event like this. and we have cnn's margaret conley who is back with us. it looks pretty crowded already.
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what kind of police presence are you already seeing on the ground there? >> reporter: there is a lot of security here. rehearsal as you can hear behind me has started. there's a lot of nypd here, a lot of officers in other uniforms and also plain clothes officers in the crowd. also before people even got here, a lot of things were cleared out. the newspaper stands were taken out, the trash bins were taken out and the street vendors were cleared. that is an explosive detection dog. and they have been all over the area. so very, very tight security. >> a guest there who is going to be part of the ball drop celebration. tell us who that is. >> reporter: if people are trying to blend in, head down, they better get here right now. the crowds are, it's extremely
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packed. the subway lines have been blocked. some of the streets have been closed. you have to check and see what is open before you head down here. also there are going to be no big packages allowed in times square. the police are making searches to make sure you don't have any big items with you. and no alcohol is allowed. but all of that aside, everyone here is out to have a god time. there's a lot of energy and excitement. we've been hearing all the performers rehearsing, and it's going to be a great show. >> it's so loud there, i know you couldn't hear my question. i'll give the viewers the answer, it is going to be justice sonya sotomayor. now thousands of new state rules and regulations will go into effect across the country when the clock strikes midnight.
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some are interesting, and some of them are just plain strange. >> you're absolutely right. and the note for our viewers is, even though these laws are strange, they're still the law. so you have to follow them. so what are we talking about here? from what you can do in your car to the bathroom, that your child can go to at school. you're going to want to listen to this. >> reporter: from flash mob crackdowns to pet lemon laws. 2014 will ring in nearly 40,000 new state laws. here are the highs and the lows. don't toss the butt of a cigarette in the street in illinois. it's considering littering. you could pay in cash or jail time. and don't even think about lighting one in a car with a child in oregon. the beaver state won't allow it. >> first we said, can you smoke in this part of the restaurant. then we said can you smoke outside. then we said can you smoke down the street. then we said can you move to
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another state in we do not like regular smokers. mean while, when it comes to marijuana, marijuana is fast becoming a legal substance in the united states. >> reporter: but new moms in oregon can get away with this, taking their placentas home from the hospital. if you're thinking why do that? some experts think eating it will have health benefits. and talking about health, no more tanning beds for some teens in illinois and oregon. you'll have to be 18 to tan in a salon in those places. but you don't have to keep your flu pet if it's sick. illinois's new pet lemon law allows people to return a pet if the illness wasn't disclosed by the seller.
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in california, gender identity. >> i think you're going to see parents really revolting against this law. >> reporter: serious moves could have serious consequences in illinois. the maximum penalty doubled to six years prison time for organizing a violent flash mob using social media. and here is one more for you. drivers in illinois don't even think about passing a school bus if that school bus is stopped. you see school districts can now slap cameras to those buses. and if you get busted, dana, you're going to have to pay the fine. >> that's a new law i think every parent can say attaboy. and many are getting ready to shiver their way into the new year. if you haven't been socked with
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cold temperatures or snow yet, you may want to brace yourself. the winter weather is moving east. what's the latest? >> all right. here it is. you can see chicago thus far this year has only had about 11 inches of snow. this is kind of the beginning of what is to come with a nor'easter. a piece of this will work up into the northeast. so here's the accumulation. 6 to 10 in chicago. 4 to 6 in des moines. but the temperatures have been brutsly cold. if you're out there tonight, 20 below is what it will feel like in minneapolis. washington, 29. boston, if you're watching the lights in the library, it will feel like 11. now that arctic air that we've seen in the upper midwest and northern plains where
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temperatures have been below zero, it's dropping. friday in boston will be 11. so temperatures on the high side, well below average. on friday in boston it will be 1. not even factoring in the wind chill. this is really some of the coldest air the northeast has seen in years. the cold air's in place. bring on the moisture, we've got a nor'easter, thursday and friday. so bad time frame in terms of people trying to get home from the holiday. this phases with a secondary low out in the water. together they come together. there's a couple different scenarios, but kind of as an aggregate of the two, 4 to 8 in new york. 6 to 10 in boston. this will be brutal. buffalo, 6 to 8. really philadelphia points
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south, freedprfreedopredominant city north. >> you just answered my question. i was going to ask how much we could expect. and still ahead, dead lean in syria. are international inspectors getting what they want as part of a historic weapons deal. and it feels like your lifeate revolves around your symptoms, ask your gastroenterologist about humira adalimumab. humira has been proven to work for adults who have tried other medications but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. in clinical studies, the majority of patients on humira saw significant symptom relief, and many achieved remission. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer, have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems,
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serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. ask your gastroenterologist about humira today. remission is possible. there's no secondhand smoke in here... ...and no cigarette advertising around here.
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there's a reason we know this is really bad... ...and this is really good. there's a reason 2 in 3 people are surviving cancer. and we cannot be silent until it's 3 out of 3. this shout-out is for everything the american cancer society has done in the last 100 years. make your tax-deductible donation by december 31st and help finish the fight. to help secure retirements and protect financial futures. to help communities recover and rebuild. for companies going from garage to global. on the ground, in the air, even into space. we repaid every dollar america lent us. and gave america back a profit. we're here to keep our promises. to help you realize a better tomorrow. from the families of aig, happy holidays.
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unisom sleeptabs help you fall asleep 33% faster and wake refreshed. unisom. a stressful day deserves a restful night. carnage in syria. at least 25 people, including children were burned beyond recognition when a rocket hit a bus in aleppo. the syrian regime is involved in
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a new deadly offensive, even as it say it is will give up its chemical stockpile. >> of course the syrian government under this programs that to eliminate its entire chemical weapons program. so that is the chemical weapons and all the facilities by the middle of 2014. but the dead lean was for them to get all of their most dangerous chemical weapons out of the country by tonight. and that is something they've failed to do. let's have a look. it changed the equation in syria. now it's clear syria will not meet an important dead lean in the process, getting its most dangerous chemicals out of the country by the end of the year. >> it's the assad regime's
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responsibility to get them safely to the port. >> reporter: syria has to haul the chemical agents by land to the coast. danish and norwegian ships were supposed to peck up the chemicals at the port, burr the vessels have turned around and returned to their port in cyprus because the chemicals weren't ready for pickup. more than 1,000 tons of vx sarin and mustard gas. they say the situation is to blame for the delay. they said security wasle leslea going to be a problem. >> we also hope that the syrian population with time has appreciated, understands that this is a mission for them.
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>> reporter: the pressure is being kept on the assad regime. but the state department says even with the delay, the mission still seems to be on track. >> we ten to make progress, which has been the important part here. they're milestones for a reason. it was always an ambitious timeline, but we are still operating on the june 30 deadline. >> reporter: they warn that the assad regime must continue its destruction of the chemical weapons. when the state department and the u.n. talk about some of the progress that's already been made they talk for instance about the fact that syria has already destroyed all the munitions that are used to deliver chemical weapons. however, this delay is somewhat significant. and they do say syria does need
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to get going or otherwise face consequences in the not too distant future. >> thank you very much and happy new year. now looking at the airport, everybody goes to the airport and experiences lock lines and doesn't like it. what if you could check in, go to boarding and only deal with robots. we're looking at some of the incredible new technology coming out. what are you finding? >> reporter: robots or machines could enable us to get on planes without boarding passes. that's already been tested out. the new question now, could scanning systems like facial recogniti recognition become the norm. it seems like science fiction, but many call it smart security. >> i think that the biomtechnol
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is important. >> reporter: they are being tested at london. they scanned passengers' irises. unmanned exit lanes are also in the works. they use sensors and locks to make sure no one sneaks into a secured area by an exit. and at international arrival terminals, there's the global entry program. for those who seen up, machines scan fingerprints and passports for customs and immigration. >> it takes low risk travelers and gets them through our process that much quicker, which would give me more time with high-risk travelers. >> reporter: it allows them to avoid tedious lines.
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ed blum just flew in with his family from panama. n but how much can safely be automat automated. experts like an israeli official says there's no substitute for a human screener looking for suspicious body language. >> some of it is uncontrolled behavior as a result of the stress that terrorists are under while they're on a mission. that is something that machines have a great difficulty to detect. >> reporter: he also points out a machine is not going to detect a terrorist who has no previous criminal record and is unthrown to the security system. terrorists like many of the 9/11 hijackers. passengers like them could go through these systems and not register a blip. they may simply change the way they do their jobs instead of
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replacing them. >> that fingerprint scanning, how widespread is that here in the u.s.? >> reporter: you've got that global entry system in 34 u.s. airports. u.s. officials are negotiating with leaders from countries like saudi arabia for reciprocal agreements to put those in their airports. this is a growing program here in the united states and it's going to grow abroad. this phenomenon is certainly going to spread. and up ahead, msnbc takes a ton of flak for a segment making fun of mitt romney's family. and crazy things can happen on live tv, trust me. but it's all about how you handle it. stick around and see some awesome reporting and the way that reporter there handled fainting. i sense you've overpacked, your stomach.
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try pepto to-go. it's pepto-bismol that fits in your pocket. relief can be yours, but your peanuts... are mine. ♪ but your peanuts... are mine. explaining my moderate to severe so there i was again, chronic plaque psoriasis to another new stylist. it was a total embarrassment. and not the kind of attention i wanted. so i had a serious talk with my dermatologist about my treatment options. this time, she prescribed humira-adalimumab. humira helps to clear the surface of my skin by actually working inside my body. in clinical trials, most adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis saw 75% skin clearance. and the majority of people were clear or almost clear in just 4 months. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis.
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serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. make the most of every moment. ask your dermatologist about humira, today. clearer skin is possible.
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a msnbc host is apologizing for making fun of mitt romney's christmas card. lisa, tell us what's going on. >> yeah, it's amazing. this story keeps developing. if you went on getter at this moment, you'd probably see information on this. this is a segment that started with this. this is a simple family photo.
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>> merry christmas. happy holiday season. that's a pretty normal greeting inside this romney family card, but not so normal. the national spotlight that's been placed on one of the smallest faces. >> everybody loves a baby picture. >> reporter: but this was no baby talk. listen as msnbc host and an actress walk on racial lines. >> they're on governor romney's knee. his adopted grandson who is an adopted african-american child. any captions for this one? >> one of these things just isn't the same. >> and that little baby front and center would be the one. >> my goal is that in 2040 the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between kirin romney and northwest.
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>> reporter: the entire segment lasted just a minute, but that's plenty to spark a twitter explosion. just one example -- leave babies alone. republicans accused of a lack of diversity were technically outraged. former senator scott brown called it wildly inappropriate, not to directly compare, but their follows other msnbc pit falls. >> america's resident dunce, sarah palin. >> reporter: in the fall, he suggested that palin do something so foul we will not repeat it. so back to the msnbc host. today she wrote without reservation or qualification, i apologize to the romney family. >> i think it was important to apologize. i think it went in a direction it didn't need to go.
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>> reporter: megan lindsey does not work in politics. try the national compound sill for adoption. >> they intended to make jokes about politics. instead. they made jokes that would offend adoptive families. >> reporter: there has been no comment from the romney family. there is a bigger point about this, too. adoption and families are changing this this country. you know, the national adoption survey says 40% of kids adopted in the u.s. are in interracial families. so i think this is a recognition that even if politics is still.gstil divided about race, the adoption world is intergreated. what's your reaction to the story? >> i thought it basseterwas ter
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inappropriate. i thought it was poor taste. adoption is something we should celebrate in this time of year when we should be focusing on love. the families love those children just as much as any other child. i am glad that she went, looked at the transcripts, look at the video and saw it was wieldly inappropriate to quote scott brown. and she apologized. i think it's okay to apologize. she apologized, i think we need to accept her apology as is. but i think this needs to be a lesson to all of us on tv that we frankly need to be more civil and should watch what we say and definitely, kids are off limits, particularly, kids that age. >> well, bill de blasio, he is a
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family that is mixed race. is there a double standard here between someone who's in the democratic party and the republican party? >> msnbc leans towards the left, so they were more prone to make fun of romney more so than de blasio. my biggest disappointment was here is an opportunity to celebrate love and family, and i watched the show. i'm a fan of melissa harris perry. i'm just amaze thad that segment made it through the smell test in terms of the news rroom and production meetings. no one in that newsroom said hey, you know, this doesn't
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sound like a god idea. they all went along with it. i'm not sure what happened, why there wasn't a failsafe about this. i disagree with a lot of mitt romney's politics, a lot. but when i saw the photo, i smiled, because i saw a big, beautiful family, and i just can't believe that they saw that and opted to let that direction be the one they take in regards to that photo. >> and talk about double standards, i'm going to go that thatter -- there, anna. what if this happened on fox? >> i think if it happened on fox f it had been somebody like rush limbaugh to stay, ay it, it wou have been a huge protest. but we are where we are, dana, and i think we should see the silver lining and make lemon 'd
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out of these lemons. even though i'm republican, i don't agree with all of his policies and politics. this was out of politics. there was no reason to focus such attention on this little grandchild. god bless the romneys for their big family, their 22 grandchildren. if all those 22 grand children had been white, this would not have been a segment on msnbc. >> do you agree? is this a teachable moment? >> i do agree it's a teachable moment. i don't agree with the fonx comparison. because they have a history of being a network that broadcast

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